Best Quick Tips Ever (Vol 1)

 


Best Quick Tips Ever


 

There are a bunch of super effective, super-fast, super-easy techniques for stress reduction, emotion regulation, and more that therapists just aren’t teaching clients! Why?! I think it might be because people don’t know about them? Here’s a list of a few of my favorites, each with a little video. Well, except for the really self-explanatory ones. For those, I’m attaching some research because it’s hard to imagine these commonplace little tactics are actually effective! 

(Ethics moment – definitely don’t use these if the underlying theory isn’t already part of your clinical repertoire, please!)

 

  • The Dive Reflex – If you’re a mammal (and you are), and you’re stressed, put your face into cold water for 30 seconds. Instant changes in the stress response, thus calming anxiety and other dysregulated emotions. 
  • The Physiological Sigh – You do this, unwittingly. It’s that sobbing sort of thing you sometimes do in the middle or near the end of a big cry, or you at least do it in your sleep! It’s like taking 2.5 inhales and then a long exhale, repeat 3-5x. The end. Really good for quick emotional calming. (Side note: In real life, when your body does this naturally, it’s more like 1.5 inhales, but when I’ve taught it in therapy, clients are usually breathing very shallowly, and teaching them to do this consciously, 2.5 seems to work better – the first inhale to baseline, the second to what feels like “capacity” or a “deep breath,” and then that last little bit that “overinflates.”)
  • List 3 Things You’re Grateful For – Lots of research about this, but here’s a fun study about how gratitude reduces Repetitive Negative Thinking and thus reduces depression and anxiety. Even a single, small intervention, like listing 3 things you’re grateful for in the moment can change perspective and improve mood. 
  • If you already do EMDR, consider the Flash Technique – it’s like a quickie version of reducing SUDS, without processing the actual trauma (but has some limitations, of course). Remind me one day to do a post on what actually makes EMDR work (which isn’t bilateral stimulation).
  • Call a Thought a Thought – the simplest  of cognitive defusion strategies. Notice you’re thinking thoughts. Then say it to yourself, “I’m noticing I’m thinking XYZ,” or even “That’s just a thought.” Crazy powerful, quick, and accessible anytime. 
  • Controversial but interesting…. Take a Tylenol – Acetaminophen (paracetamol) reduces the pain of social rejection and of making tough decisions. Careful, though – it may also increase risk taking, reduce empathy, and decrease the intensity of positive experiences, as well. (And, of course, mind the risk of overdose!) 

Comment below: Share your favorite, research-based “quick tips” for clients!  

 

 

 

Obviously…


Obviously… (the false consensus effect)


This is a pretty awful word. 

The false consensus effect is a cognitive bias – it’s our tendency to see our own choices and judgments as  common and appropriate to existing circumstances. And that means, almost all the time, that we think other people really ought to be thinking, perceiving, believing, valuing, and choosing the same way that we are … obviously. 

Because we’re therapists, our job is to accept and understand the different ways that other people are thinking, perceiving, believing, valuing, and choosing. (And we don’t do this perfectly, by any stretch!)

But for a lot of people, if you aren’t thinking what’s obvious to them, you’re obviously crazy, stupid, or awful. 🙂

So, where are the places we can eliminate this word, as a way of beginning to unchain ourselves from this bias? 

 

  • We can stop using it in session, for a start. When is there a time that this word is beneficial in session? I’m guessing pretty much never. 
  • We can teach this in session, to clients. It comes up a lot in couples’ work, especially. 
  • We can work to take it out of our conversations in our non-work lives, too. 
  • And we can watch for sneaky synonyms like “of course!” 

 

 

Comment below: Now you’ll be catching yourself using this word! Post a comment about your situation! (Including if you think there ARE useful times to use it!)

 

Words of Regret


Words of Regret


Sometimes, a small change in words can make a world of difference! 

 

I know we talk about the word “Should” in therapy a lot, especially in the Albert Ellis kind of way – “shoulding all over yourself.” But there’s this one specific instance where clients seem to use “should” in a profoundly destructive and usually inaccurate way. When they regret something they have done, or haven’t done, or the way some situation went, they say: 

  • “I should have said things differently.
  • “I should have acted more quickly. 
  • “I should have been a better partner/parent/friend.

It turns out that most of the time, clients actually did the best they could with the information and resources that they had at the time. So, it’s a bit of a logical fallacy to say they should have acted differently (and certainly some other cognitive distortions in the way they imagine the difference it might have made). I have also found, though, that when they are expressing this deep, sometimes grief-filled, regret… they’re no really in the mood to talk about how unrealistic they’re being. So, sometimes I ask them to just make a tiny language change, or sometimes I just make it when I reflect it back:

  • “You wish you had said things differently.
  • “You wish you had acted more quickly. 
  • “You wish you had been a better partner/parent/friend. 

There are other words that could fit, too, but I like wish because it can be modified in terms of intensity pretty easily. “It’s the most desperate wish of your heart…” “You deeply wish that…” 

We’ll get around to talking about the specifics and the reality and all that, of course. (Side note: these shoulds/wishes are almost always much too vague, precisely because the exact right action that would have brought about the desired outcome is not knowable now, just as it was not knowable then!) In that moment, though, removing or lessening the burden of unnecessary guilt can be as simple as using language with intention. 

Comment below: When have you found that small language changes have made big impacts for clients? 

 

 

 

 

Online Resources Vol 3


Online Resources Volume 3


Here’s a new set of interesting, free, potentially useful online mental health stuff I’ve run across for clients or clinicians! If you haven’t, check out Vol 1 and Vol 2

 

  • Project Y.E.S. ​(Youth Empowerment & Support) is an anonymous program evaluation project being run by scientists at Stony Brook University in partnership with University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio – UT Teen Health. Free 30-minute stress-mgmt activities for teens! The idea here is that evidence-based mental health support can be SO much more widely available than it currently is!
  • These online  “pocket” memory aids  cover the basic ideas from several different types of therapy. They’re probably not useful if a client hasn’t engaged in that therapy with you, but after you’ve taught the basics, these can be a good reminder as they practice throughout the week.
  • I know there are a million CBT worksheets out there, but I quite like these from Andrew Grimmer (who I don’t know, btw! This is not a shoutout – I just came across them and find many of them more useful than resources from other, more common websites). Some are printables, others are online forms (like a chain analysis that can be filled out by a client midweek and emailed to the therapist!).
  • If you’re already familiar with ACT, these are pretty helpful technique explanations/reminders. 
  • I’m not 100% sure that I haven’t posted this before, but Now Matters Now has some great resources around suicidal ideation.
  • And here’s a great little video by Andrew Huberman describing the  “physiological sigh” – which is a great quick stress/anxiety tool. On par with the face-in-cold-water technique, but easier to do anywhere! 

Comment below: As always, share the cool, free resources you’ve found online, too!